“The key is in the droplet” – a revolution in drone spraying!
Flying over crops with a +25kg UAV/UAS with 10-20l liquid container is a super effective way to spray pesticide over the field. As spraying with drones becomes a mature technology, a Hungarain SME is set to shake up the industry, taking precision farming one step further.
Gyula Török, the co-founder and CEO of ABZ Drones, the company behind the Wonderjet system is here to share why droplets are important and how to unlock the maximum potential of drone spraying.
Hello Gyula, many thanks for taking the time today to shed light on your venture. Where did your passion for drones and agriculture come from?
We had a background in professional services tailored for the agricultural sector with more than 2,000 clients in Hungary and in the CEE. We have always been striving to serve our clients’ needs better and we saw a good opportunity in drones in 2015. It came natural to us to serve our clients needs better and see a good opportunity in drones in 2015. The first drones for the agriculture sector rolled out and we jumped right into it by providing training and services.
However, almost all of these drones which are capable of spraying use a hydraulic pressure pump to sprinkle the solution in the field. This is fine, but most of the droplets generated this way are either too big or too small for the agriculture usage.
Now with our project, we have created a mechanical droplet generation system, called the Wonderjet, which uses a mechanical rotation to produce standard sized droplets.
Source: ABZ DRONE
Why does it matter?
Certain chemical interventions require a precise solution to drive the best results. Like in the case of sensitive vineyards, where there are chemical components for pest and fungus. Leaves are required to absorb the maximum amount of solution for a healthy growth, without the abundant water and chemical usage. If the droplet is too small, it can be carried away by the wind whirls, and if it is too large, the leaves can not absorb it, and it coils down from the leaves to the ground.
Source: ABZ DRONE
So you always know what the ideal droplet size is for each plant at each stage of the growth?
That is the goal. For example by herbicide treatment we need bigger droplets. For pesticide treatment, on the other hand, we need smaller droplets to create a “mist” of vapour that captures the pests. It can open up a wide array of scientific research and experimentation to unlock the full potential of the technology.
Besides the seemingly obvious water optimization and pesticide reduction, what other benefits do you see in this technology?
First of all, drone spraying with the WonderJet system is at least 2x more effective than the most popular drone spraying technology, proven by the Water Sensitive Paper tests.
Source: ABZ DRONE
(The most common practice to measure the spraying effectiveness in the field. The droplets hit the paper and in the lab machine learning algorithms and AI can classify, count and measure the coverage and extrapolate the effectiveness of the spraying intervention for the entire field).
Less water means less chemicals as a direct consequence. We believe that this level of precision can open a new chapter in designing plant/crop protection strategies, and products. We are set to work together with major pesticide companies for joint testing and research products in the future.
The droplet generation seems to add an additional layer of complexity and sophistication to the drone spraying technology. How do you make sure that the know-how and best practices reach the users on the field?
Every machine is as good as its users can take benefits from it. Most importantly, we provide on-site, regular training for the staff, with additional online learning materials and practical flight / test times. On the field level, we believe that the software is key. It has to be extremely user friendly to the point that even sophisticated algorithms and parameters help in decision making in the background. We also involve plant protection experts and biologists for regular consultations as a service offer. Finally, some of our customers can have access to the technology in the form of a service. It is “drone as a service” if you like, on a regular or on-demand basis. In this case we carefully map, log and follow-up with the spraying intervention and assist the compliance with the local rules and regulations. Our professional and personal service and maximum focus on the plant quality is the ultimate key to success.
Source: ABZ DRONE
What do you see, where does the market go for agricultural drones?
We are just at the tipping point. In the EU the green deal and sustainability agenda, Farm to Fork strategy, is set to promote innovation in sustainable agriculture. We expect double digit growth in the following years to come. Besides, the EU, North America, and South-East Asia provide massive opportunities for adaptation to sophisticated agricultural technology solutions. Even without EU grants and subsidies, our clients recognise the tangible benefits of the drone spraying systems and that of WonderJet’s magic.
Thank you Gyula for taking the time to share your insights with Maxellco. Where can the audience learn more about you and about ABZ Drones?
I wish to invite the readers to visit https://abzdrone.com/ and read more on this technology. Hopefully we can also meet at one of the upcoming agricultural exhibitions, if the COVID situation will allow that.
What do you think?